by InlandTown Editor
0 comment

The Ben Enwonwu Foundation in collaboration with Alliance Française/ Mike Adenuga Centre Lagos and Centre for Contemporary Art Lagos and supported by the Society of Nigerian Artists hosted the eighth edition of its monthly series of talks ‘Point of View’ (POV 8) on the 29th of June, 2021.

Themed ‘Preserving Artists Legacies: Foundations, Archives and Generational Art Patronage’, the edition sought to educate Nigerian and African artists on tools including wills, to chronicle, manage and preserve their estates while ensuring a continuing influence on their art on culture and the society through enlightenment and maintaining the authenticity of their work and mission long after retirement. In addition, art collectors also gained information on the usefulness of foundations and archives in preserving the integrity of their collections.


The event was anchored by the Executive Director of The Ben Enwonwu Foundation, Oliver Enwonwu. Mr Damien Jean-Marie, Deputy Director Alliance Française, kicked it off with a brief introduction.

The first speaker, Hannah O’Leary, Director, Head of Modern and Contemporary African Art Sotheby’s, London, who joined virtually said, “We were worried at Sotheby’s initially because of the pandemic, but surprisingly we gained 10% increase of sales during the lockdown. People love art.”

Bimpe Nkontchou the second speaker also joined virtually noting that, “There is still a lot of work to be done in the art ecosystem. Many artists are not being encouraged or nurtured on what they need to know to develop their own legacy while they are alive.”

“There is lot of material that artists accumulate and leave around whilst they are creating their work. It is important to actually collect and harness all of that into an archive because that is part of what becomes of the artist’s legacy.” In addition, she stressed that many African artists are struggling for recognition. They usually have to travel to various residencies to live there consequently, their personal affairs are scattered around.

“A lot can be done in creating and establishing one’s legacy in their life time and much of that has to do in the art space with the quality and price of the work as well as the success of the artist.”

The discussion between the panelists was also hosted by Mr Oliver Enwonwu who drove the conversation around the preservation of artists’ legacies. The panellists were; Ngozi Edozien, Managing Director and Founder, InVivo Partners Limited; Prof Bruce Onobrakpeya MFR, Founder, The Bruce Onobrakpeya Foundation; Mr Dotun Sulaiman, Chairman, Arian Capital Management Limited; and  Mr Ike Chioke, Group Managing Director, Afrinvest West Africa Limited. According to Edozien, “There is a depth and finesse in a body of work that people recognise. The value of a piece is also the message in the story and how that artist’s story touches you, a group of individuals and what it is saying about the time or the emotions, or whatever that it is bringing on board”.

Mr Sulaiman who said he preferred buying from unknown artists was of the opinion that artists and collectors must consider estate planning. “We should be deliberate and very intentional about what we would do with what we have amassed during our lifetime. Give them away to people who you know would continue to love and take good care of them,” he said.

Mr Sulaiman revealed that the ideal situation for him before he passes on is to give away his whole art collection to an institution that has the capacity and the competence to preserve it for the benefit of future generations. “I will work with like-minded people to create such an institutional capacity that one can then bequeath a collection to for the enjoyment of future generations of Nigerians. The thing about Nigerian art is that the best collections are in private hands. There is a huge collection out there that is not being seen; many works are in storage,” he stated.

Prof Bruce Onobrakpeya noted that he worries less about his works as they are already being preserved in the hands of Nigerian and foreign collectors. He revealed he intends to imitate Suzanne Wenger who made a heritage site out of the Osun grove in Osogbo by creating a heritage site out of Agbara- Otor where he works from and keeps the majority of his art.

He added that the most important thing for an artist is that “his work is developing an environment – it goes beyond just a family thing. It is creating an identity for a lot of people, helping our youth who have no opportunity to go to a higher institution to learn and develop skills that could make them better in life while helping the government to raise money through tourism. The collection I have is bigger than the community; it is for the world.”

Speaking of the future of art, Mr Chioke said, “It is very important that we think of cataloguing, digitising our art collection and of moving on to the next level. But there is also digital art….artists are creating digital works that exit only digitally and are selling them – I have seen that happen on the internet. That’s where we are heading to”.

However, lamenting the poor management of art collections in Nigeria, Sulaiman opined that “it is unfortunate that we still do not have enough expertise . If it is not a private sector initiative that is led by proper governance and structure, then we do not have anywhere to go. We also do not have the space – the major issue with art is storage and if you do not store them well, they will deteriorate.”

The panellists responded to questions from the audience after which Oyinda Fakeye, the Artistic Director, Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos gave a summary of the discussion. Oliver Enwonwu drew the curtains with his vote of thanks which acknowledged all partners and sponsors of ‘Point of View’ including Business Day, Omenka, Vanguard, Five Cowries Art Education and WildflowerPR.

Point of View holds on the last Tuesday of every month.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment

* By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More